As December drew to a close, I was excited that we were about to enter a fresh new year. I suspect most folks like the idea of a “new beginning,” so to speak, though by definition all beginnings are “new.”
Not to pick nits, though, Jan. 1, 2018, wasn’t quite as exhilarating as I’d anticipated.
Though unintended, I’d stayed awake past midnight ushering in the new year. Consequently, the next morning, I was bleary eyed (even though no alcohol was involved) and so tired I could barely move.
Additionally, I’d finished off most of the leftover Christmas goodies the night before — to save myself from them in the new year — resulting in a stomach that wasn’t especially happy, either.
That afternoon, I received word that my sister-in-law, wife of my oldest brother, had died. Shirley had been diagnosed some months before with an aggressive liver cancer. So I was somewhat prepared, but not for it to happen on New Year’s Day.
To help deal with the news, I called a close friend — and learned she was sick. Because she suffers terribly from diabetes, “seasonal” illnesses are especially dangerous for her. And people had been dropping like flies from assorted “colds” and flu, even the genuine dreaded flu, which is very dangerous for anyone battling other serious medical issues.
Better days ahead
Though the new year hadn’t been “rung in” with great glee as I’d hoped (at least at my house), having lived for more than seven decades can have its benefits (besides Social Security). At times, it can provide some seriously needed prospective.
Looking back, we can recall other days that didn’t turn out as we’d hoped (like when my first child, a toddler in a highchair, upchucked his Christmas meal into his plate at his grandparents’ home. It wasn’t just an upset tummy, either.) But he later recovered, and we all, including his four siblings, have gone on to celebrate plenty of holidays, thankfully with few reoccurrences.
Though a friend thinks I’m a bit pessimistic, I disagree. I believe I’m a realist. For example, a couple of degenerating infirmities have worsened to the point of causing me nearly constant pain. At the end of every day, my body just wants to crawl into bed — if it can get that far.
But I’m exceedingly thankful I don’t have other physical afflictions that could be much more debilitating, such as the diabetes my friend deals with. She’s virtually homebound and has had some hair-raising hospitalizations. It’s not a milquetoast kind of affliction but is a wonderful one — not to have.
Nevertheless, with accommodations, my friend lives alone in a sweet apartment with her beautiful orange cat, Bella, enjoys her many nieces and nephews and laughs as heartily at something funny as anyone I know.
I won’t add the long list of other bad things I don’t have. But being a (happy) realist, I’m also extremely grateful for good insurance and excellent medical providers.
A different list
I’d like to offer a different kind of list, though, my wishes for this New Year:
1. Peace on earth: Don’t laugh; I know that’s not likely to happen the way we imagine it. We live in an incredibly turbulent time and troubled world when being mean and nasty to others is celebrated by many. But I can refuse to be mean.
OK, it’s tempting sometimes — but I still can turn the other cheek, smile and perhaps say a kind word when someone disrespects me. And I believe that winning even one skirmish in the “mean and nasty” war could bring about positive outcomes we can hardly envision.
2. Enough of everything for everyone: Food, clothing, medical care, love … hardly something we’ll ever live to see, either. That’s partly because human nature can be so selfish.
But in my own little corner of the world, I can choose to turn from my selfish inclinations and give to others. That might mean making a monetary contribution that squeezes my budget a bit. Or I could give of my time to help another — which for me can be as painful as giving money.
In the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, Jesus says to, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” There must be a good reason that’s often called the “Golden Rule.” And it’s way more than just giving time or money.
3. Beauty everywhere: Though that’s another wish that’s not going to be fulfilled while we’re on this earth, working toward that end is — and can bring — beauty in itself. Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but our actions can do much to produce beauty wherever we are. That includes my first two wishes.
Just because we can’t eliminate parts of life that are “unbeautiful” doesn’t mean we can’t do much to make a more lovely world. And beauty is much more than simply what we see. It might be hearing someone say, “I love you.” Or it could be a hug or the taste of something good baked by a friend or neighbor or … You fill in the blank; the sky’s the limit.
Happy New Year!
Tommi Halvorsen Gatlin is a retired reporter, who still contributes to The Vidette. Contact her by emailing the editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.